Before I begin this review, I’d like to thank Douglass Draa and John Betancourt for providing both electronic and print review copies.
There are 19 pieces of fiction here along with 8 poems by new and established authors. The Table of Contents is provided at the end of the review. I’m not going to try to provide a synopsis for all of them. Some are quite short. I don’t want my discussion of any of the stories to be longer than the stories themselves. So I’m going to take a different approach.
First, let me say that Weirdbook 31 is an outstanding piece of work. The stories are all professional level. So is the poetry. The variety is also impressive. There are stories that are straight horror, Lovecraftian horror, dark fantasy, and many varieties in between. What you won’t find here are cutesy, charming, precious stories. That’s not to say there’s not humor or wit. There is. There’s something for everyone here, probably multiple somethings. If there’s not, then you need to expand your tastes.
The settings vary from urban to rural to imaginary lands to mental institutions to parallel dimensions to academia. Not all of the viewpoint characters are human. The writing styles range from straightforward to more intricate.
All in all this was a very satisfying reading experience.
We don’t have enough markets for the type of fiction presented here. Someone with better credentials than me has written that the small press magazines are in many ways the lifeblood of the genre. I’ll have to agree. It’s here, in publications like Weirdbook that growth and experimentation occur. New writers get to stretch their wings. There aren’t many short fiction markets these days, and even fewer print markets. Of those print markets, only a few are periodicals. The rest are anthologies. And while some of them do publish this type of weird fiction, at least upon occasion, there aren’t any I can currently think of that publish weird fiction exclusively.
The fantasy and horror fields need a publication like Weirdbook. These type of magazines, whether they are print or electronic, keep the genre alive. Here’s wishing the current incarnation of Weirdbook a long, prosperous, and influential life.
One final word on the production values. Both the electronic and print editions are top of the line. The paper is good quality white, not off-white or some shade of grey. The color of the cover illustration stands out weill. I read the electronic version with the Kindle app on my phone The formatting didn’t have any strange line breaks. The interactive ToC took me where it was supposed to. All in all, a professional level product.
Full Table of Contents
Chivaine by John R. Fultz
Give Me the Daggers by Adrian Cole
The Music of Bleak Entrainment by Gary A. Braunbeck
Into The Mountains with Mother Old Growth by Christian Riley
The Grimlorn Under the Mountain by James Aquilone
Dolls by Paul Dale Anderson
Gut Punch by Jason A. Wyckoff
Educational Upgrade by Bret McCormick
Boxes of Dead Children by Darrell Schweitzer
The Forgotten by D.C. Lozar
Coffee with Dad’s Ghost by Jessica Amanda Salmonson
Missed It By That Much by Gregg Chamberlain
A Clockwork Muse by Erica Ruppert
The Rookery by Kurt Newton
Wolf of Hunger Wolf of Shame by J. T. Glover
Zucchini Season by Janet Harriett
The Jewels That Were Their Eyes by Llanwyre Laish
The Twins by Kevin Strange
Princess or Warrior? by S.W. Lauden
The City in the Sands by Ann K. Schwader
NecRomance by Frederick J. Mayer
Walpurgis Eve by Kyle Opperman
Sonnets of an Eldritch Bent by W. H. Pugmire
Castle Csejthe by Ashley Dioses
The Shrine by Wade German
Bride of Death by Dave Reeder
Modern Primitive by Chad Hensley